How long will it take before you choose happiness?
Can you be happy if you’re achy, overweight, or fatigued?
Do you tell yourself things should be different by now?
What if you could take the time you need for your body to heal in its own time and for you to process the trauma of breast cancer and not attach a deadline to that process?
In this show I talk about learning to be with yourself and your body now, drop the expectation of time and in doing so release some stress and decide to be happy.
Referred to in this episode:
Read Full Transcript Below:
This is Laura Lummer, the breast cancer recovery coach. I'm a healthy lifestyle coach, a clinical Ayurveda specialist, a personal trainer, and I'm also a breast cancer survivor. In this podcast, we talk about healthy thinking and mindfulness practices, eating well, moving your body for health and longevity. And we'll also hear from other breast cancer survivors who have reengaged with life and have incredible stories to share. This podcast is your go-to resource for getting back to life after breast cancer.
Hello, friends. Welcome to another episode of the breast cancer recovery coach podcast. I'm your host, Laura Lummer.
And I have a question of the week: Have you signed up to join the plant-based bingo challenge?
You can do that on my website at thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/plants.
I'll also include a link here where you're listening to this podcast and on the show notes for this episode, which you'll find at thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/143.
So plant-based bingo challenge is a completely free challenge. I am actually going to be on vacation at the end of this month, and I wanted there to be something fun and engaging for everyone in my groups and membership to do while I'm gone. And since knowing what to eat, coming to terms with what to eat, working on your relationship with food is a huge challenge for so many people, I thought this would be a great time to put this challenge out there. It's completely free, just go to that page and sign up for it. And then, on Sunday, June 20, 2021, you will receive an email that has the bingo card with live links in it to click on to complete your challenges, you'll get a guidebook, you'll get all the rules, and it's gonna be a lot of fun. I did this challenge a few months ago; actually, it was a lot longer ago than I thought.
You know, COVID really did mess up the whole scale of time. It feels like, but I did it with my Empower group. We had so much fun because we learned a lot of new things. You know, people tried plants that they hadn't tried before, learn cooking techniques, went to farmer's markets and did things that they hadn't done before learned new foods, they like to learn new foods they didn't like.
And it was really a great time. So I know you'll enjoy it, it's going to be a lot of fun. And all the posting all the engagement will take place in the breast cancer recovery group.
So if you are already a member there, you'll get to see everything. But there are prizes, and you have to be registered in order to win the prizes. Because if you don't go and sign up, you won't receive the emails and the bingo card and all that, and I won't know you were participating in it.
So that's kind of why you have to do that. So go to thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/plants and sign up for plant-based bingo. It's going to run from June, and it will start June 20 through July. I think it's the third I think it's Saturday, July 3, whatever that Saturday is. And so you'll have two weeks, there's a lot of stuff to do. Yes, Saturday, July 3, and you'll get to learn a lot and have fun and get to engage with a lot of women who are also working on improving their relationship with food.
And you know what I talk about a relationship with food. Some people have a really healthy, great diet, but they still don't have a good relationship with food because they follow these healthy diets from a place of fear and scarcity. From a place of thinking I have to eat this way, or I'll get cancer again. And they don't enjoy it. And a lot of times, people have a really tough emotional struggle over the way they feel they would like to eat and the way they feel they would like their lifestyle to be versus what they forced themselves to do.
So it would be an interesting thing, even if you already feel like you have a really healthy diet, to maybe share your insights on how your thoughts are. Do you have good healthy thoughts about it? Do you follow it because you love yourself, and you're treating yourself with compassion and eating well because you want to support your body? Or do you follow it for the reasons I just talked about?
So come join us join the breast cancer recovery group. It's a free Facebook group. Join plant-based bingo challenge. It's a free challenge. It's going to be a lot of fun!
Alright, so let's jump into this show.
Now this show, okay, there's a viral video. And you may have already seen it if you haven't. I'm going to include a link to it in the show notes for this episode. And it is a clip from America has got talent, and it is a clip of a young woman, a 30-year-old woman singing and she is a cancer survivor. She's dealing with living with cancer, and she goes by the title nightbirde, and she sings on the show, and it's so powerful. Her experience is so powerful that if you haven't seen it, I highly recommend clicking on the link. So you get some context about, you know, the statement that she makes.
But in it, she says, and this may not be verbatim, but in it, she says, You can't wait for life to stop being hard before you decide to be happy.
And I thought, dang, that is a powerful and true statement.
You know, we have to make a choice every day, to live our life with the intention to choose happiness, to decide how we want to feel. And sometimes, that's not easy. And sometimes, life circumstances are challenging. But do we allow those challenges to prevent us from choosing to live our fullest life?
So this was a great time to see this video because what I'm really talking about in this podcast is this idea. And I see this a lot. I struggled with it myself. And it breaks my heart every time I see a post about it.
But it's this question of how long do I have to feel like this?
When is this going to change?
When is this going to stop?
And it's interesting to share a story with you. A couple of weeks ago, it's been, I don't know, maybe a little over two weeks, my mom, who is eighty years old and lives a pretty much sedentary life. She if she walks in a long distance, she uses a walker to support her. And she went on a lovely afternoon with one of my sisters. And she did a lot of walking much more than she's used to doing. So even though she was kind of like drinking, you know, when you go out to have a couple of drinks, it's always fun in the moment until you wake up the next day, well, that's kind of how this went too.
When she woke up the next day, she was in a lot of pain, right in her hip and leg and her lower back. And now, a couple of weeks later, of course, it's improved. But it's not back to the way she's not feeling the way she felt before going on that walk. And it's really difficult and upsetting for her.
And I was calling the other day to check on her.
And I said, you know, how are you feeling, mom? And she was really upset. And she said you know, how long is this gonna last? And I said, well, Mom, it's only been, she goes it's been ten days. And I said, okay, but it takes time for a body to heal. You know, you just have to be patient.
And I think that that lessons of patients, you know, it's funny because I never considered myself to be a patient person. That's something I have had to do a tremendous amount of work on. Right? Being patient, staying in the moment, and not being attached to the deadline or the outcome for the timing that I want things to happen in.
And here's why I think that's a really important thing.
Because I see posts all the time, so much suffering that we actually create for ourselves, because of this question, we're constantly posing, how long is this going to last? How long am I going to have to deal with this?
And the answer is, we never know. Right?
We never know the effects of taking an aromatase inhibitor for five to ten years after treatment until we start taking them.
We never know how many side effects we're going to have to manage from radiation and chemotherapy until we're through it.
And that the problem comes in, when we're saying how much longer because that's again, the expectation that it is going to change.
So when we stop and become very present, and we notice what's going on with our bodies. And then we have to say, Okay, this is what I'm experiencing right now joint pain, or extreme fatigue or brain fog, or hair thinning, all of the lovely things that come along with breast cancer treatment, and long after breast cancer treatment. Then the question to ask is, what if this never changes? Right?
What if this is the way my body is going to feel from this point forward? And then when you can sit with that, it doesn't mean you have to be happy with it doesn't mean you're gonna say, Oh, yeah, I had to deal with joint pain for the next 15 years. No. But it means the frustration and the suffering, the sadness and the depression. Those come in from that resistance.
From the resistance, to just be able to understand what's happening at this moment to your body, and ask yourself, what can I do to support my wellness today?
Instead of asking yourself, how long is this going to last? When am I going to feel better?
Because that's it's not an answerable question, right?
None of us have a crystal ball. No one can tell you when or if something is going to change. And that can just create so much unhappiness. But if you can stop asking yourself that question, acknowledge what's happening with yourself right now, acknowledge that this is the place that you're in, and then change that question to what are the things I can do to support myself?
Because why is it easier to beat ourselves up and give ourselves love it?
It is. I don't know why it is. I don't know why your brains are wired that way. But here's a few more things to consider. So, in addition to just being there and asking what you can do to support yourself, another really important question is, what is the hurry? Right? What is the hurry? Your body has just been through cancer!
It's been through cancer treatment. That is major.
Why do we have this mentality that as soon as something is over, everything changes, and we just feel the way we felt beforehand?
It takes time to heal. It takes time when you've been cut into, and you've had toxic treatments applied to your bodies that create tons of inflammation, tons of cell damage.
It takes time.
So I think a super important question to ask yourself and to journal about and to really consider is: Why do you have such a hard time taking time for yourself?
You know, it's we want to hurry, right? I remember when I went, I look back now. And I think wow, wow, did I really think this way, and I did. And I went in after my first diagnosis back in 2011. And I talked to the oncologist, and I talked to the breast surgeon. And we discussed the options of lumpectomy versus mastectomy. Now, I had insurance, and I had vacation time, I had sick hours, I had more than enough to cover what it would take to do the mastectomy. But I chose the lumpectomy really based on time. How much downtime? How each time we'll have to take away from work? You know, how much time is that going to mean that I might need help from my family? Or that I won't get to do all the things that I want to do with my kids or drive them to school? Or you know, what, what time are we talking about here?
All right, cool. Let's go with the lumpectomy causes less downtime.
And I look at that now. And I think about it and how after, you know, ten years and a second diagnosis. And I think what the hell was wrong with me?
Seriously, what the hell was I thinking my body had cancer growing in it? I needed to treat this very serious disease, and I needed to take time for myself to heal from a very serious operation. And that was, you know before I knew I was going to need chemotherapy or any further treatments, I only knew about the surgery. And I... what was I thinking, you know that I wasn't willing to give myself two more weeks. Really, that was the difference between the downtime for the lumpectomy versus the downtime for the mastectomy.
And so I didn't want to take two more weeks for myself.
And then I ended up needing to have the damn mastectomy anyway.
You know, when I went through chemotherapy, and I told myself, I want to keep going, I want to keep going, I'm too tired to go all day. So I'll put a beanbag chair in my office and discuss it with my boss, you know, I may have to take some extra naps. But no worries, I'll still hold up my end of the deal. And I had time on the books, I could have been paid my full salary, and still received all the benefits that I needed, you know, to cover, to cover the costs of everything that I was going through.
But I wasn't willing to give myself time.
Now I've done a lot of work on myself since then. And I look back, and I realized because I had this expectation that I had written for myself of the person who I was, and come hell or high water, I was going to continue to be that person come cancer or mastectomy, or radiation, or chemotherapy.
I was going to be that person, dammit.
And now I look back, and I think, wow, what a powerful lesson.
Why was it so important to be that person rather than to stop and recognize the serious illness that was happening in me?
...To accept the fact that my body was very sick?
Right, I even have a hard time with that now because I focus so much on healing that when I think of myself as being sick, you know of having metastatic cancer, pretty extensive metastatic cancer.
And I don't think of myself as a sick person in terms of that's not how I identify myself. You identify with this idea of healing. I'm, you know, healing myself. Well, you can't be healing yourself if you're not sick, right?
So I have to sometimes remind myself, my body is very sick right now. It needs more rest, and it needs more time, it needs more attention, it needs more support.
And it's okay to take that time.
If I don't take that time and support my body, and support that healing, and allow myself to reevaluate everything that's happening, you know, how did I get to this place? Why am I so unwilling to take time for myself? What does that mean to me? What are the thoughts behind it?
That's really interesting stuff to dig into. And as I dug into that for myself, or as I work with many women who dig into that, you know, some of the things underneath it are, how we value ourselves, how we kind of where our ego is at, right? Do we look at ourselves and say, I am a mom, I am, you know, this employee, I am this manager, I am this person. And we don't want to let go of that identity and just kind of understand what's beneath it.
You know, what else is there to ME?
And the bottom line is if I don't figure that out, and I don't take care of ME, and I don't give myself what I need, there may not be a ME for very much longer.
And it's not just the physical demands or the physical changes, but we have to give ourselves time to process the emotions that come along with going through this experience of breast cancer and breast cancer treatment.
And, you know, that's another great question, ask ourselves like, where does the resistance come from? Where's the resistance to feeling vulnerable? Where's the resistance to feeling sad, to feeling frightened, to feeling traumatized? Why do we resist it?
When it's clearly something in us, an emotion in us that needs time and healing, I mean, what is trauma? According to the dictionary, it's, it's a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. And when we have something happen does like that. It's so important that we give ourselves time.
So how do you know when it is enough time? So we're talking about being patient. How patient you have to be? How much time do you need?
Well, in my personal experience, which is the only thing I can offer you.
I know that I'm not ready when I think about taking on something or having an expectation put on me. And in my body, in my gut, in my chest, there's a sick feeling, right? There's this feeling of Oh, God, and this doesn't this isn't sitting well with me, this isn't sitting right with me.
And it's a really interesting thing because I know that it's so hard for women to say, I need time. Like I'm not ready for this. Because we oftentimes tend to label that with weakness.
But it isn't a weakness. It's a part of healing.
And being patient with yourself and taking the time to ask some of the important questions like the ones I've presented here, asking yourself, like, what is going on here? What do I need? This is critical for healing. And healing does not just mean I got the drains pulled out. I had the stitches removed, right? There's deep healing in our physical body. And there's emotional healing from the trauma. Our body didn't go through this on its own. Right, we are one and the same. We have emotions, and we have this mental experience. So we have the subtle trauma and a subtle, but I mean, you can't touch it. It's not tangible, like our body. And we have the tangible trauma as well.
So if I could offer you anything, that has been a significant lesson in having two diagnoses of breast cancer, and all the treatments that come with it, and the dozens and dozens of women I've worked with and coached over these last ten years since the first diagnosis, it would really be easy on yourself. And reel it back, you know, come back to this moment in this time.
And when you catch yourself, saying how much longer or what am I gonna have to do? What am I going to have to what is this going to take? I really think that's a huge red flag to say, and I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me come back here. Then maybe with myself today, let me see what options are available to me to support me or help me feel some relief from maybe the things that are bringing new stress and anxiety.
But why am I putting this time limit on myself? Because the time limit is adding stress to the stress or the discomfort I'm already feeling. And how can I be in this moment with myself and give myself all of the possible time, and love, and gentleness that I can muster right now?
And when I've done that, and I've sat there, and I've paid attention to myself, and I've started giving myself permission to take what I need, right to give myself what I need, can I sit there and say, let me be really curious about who I am going to emerge as?
You know, can I let go of this idea that I have to be a certain way? Just check out where I am now.
And then see what comes from it and see what happens, and see if that does not release some of the stress and anxiety around healing.
Okay, so just to recap some important questions.
One is, what if this never changes? How can I find a way to be happy if what I'm experiencing right now is the way that my body is going to feel?
Two is, why am I telling myself this has to happen in a certain period of time? And is that adding more stress to my life?
And I promise you it is.
And then why are you so resistant to taking more time for yourself? What is the thought behind it? The reason you won't give yourself permission to take the time you need to support your healing.
So some really cool things to consider there.
And those sound like simple questions, all these three easy things, I can answer them off the top of my head, but I hope you'll take more time with them and actually get out a pencil on a piece of paper. And if this is something you're struggling with, this frustration from being in a certain place, these are some really important questions to help you get to a place of realizing that you don't have to wait for those things to change, to still embrace life and be happy. And so, letting go of some of those timelines frees up more thoughts and more energy to refocus on other things that can bring more joy.
Alright, I hope that helps. And if you have questions or comments about come to my Facebook page, Laura Lummer, or join the breast cancer recovery group, or if you're already in the breast cancer recovery group, let me know your thoughts. Let me know your comments. Let me know where you're at with this idea of putting time limits on yourself and where you're feeling about being patient with yourself and your healing. And the changes that have occurred in your life and in your body.
Okay, so I would love to hear from you. I really would. And I would love for you to join the plant-based bingo challenge. It's going to be a lot of fun in like I said, I love prizes. I love winning things. So there will be prizes.
So make sure you go to my website, thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/plants, and join the plant-based bingo challenge.
All right. I will talk to you next week. And until then, be very good to yourself and expect others to be good to you as well.